If you ask a professional groundscare person which type of lawnmower gives the best cut for your lawn, they will all say reel mowers give the best cut by far.
Whether you decide to use an engine driven one or a manual push one you will be amazed at how sharp and clean cut your lawn looks after using a reel mower.
The majority of lawnmowers nowadays use a single horizontal spinning blade to cut the grass. This type of mower blade is much cheaper to make and simpler to sharpen, but it does not offer the high quality of cut that a reel mower blade does. Years ago the majority of lawn mowers were reel mowers.
Below is a brief introduction to what a reel mower is and how it operates. I have chosen 5 popular reel mowers and a summary to determine which is the best.
What is a reel mower?
A reel mower is a lawnmower with a series of blades – from 4 to 10 blades in a spiral formation.
The blades move very close to a single straight blade at the bottom called the bed blade.
The grass is cut when the reel/spiral of blades catches the grass between the reel and the bed blade.
Why Should I Buy a Reel Mower?
A reel mower gives grass a better cut finish because its reel blade performs a lot more cuts over a given distance compared to a traditional horizontal blade lawn mower.
If you look at all the major football fields and professional groundscare businesses they all use reel mowers to give their lawn the ultimate clean cut finish.
There are many different types of reel lawn mowers available to buy, and they are all of different levels of quality and workmanship.
I have owned and serviced many different makes of lawn mowers over the years.
My experience of them should give you a better understanding of each of the models below.
These are 5 relatively common manual reel mowers which i feel are good for the job.
Best reel mower for large lawns
The following 5 manual reel mowers are some of the most commonly bought and have lots of reviews online.
1. Fiskars 18 Inch Staysharp Max Reel Mower
- This is the pick of the bunch, it is the best made in term of quality of materials and craftsmanship. The most important maintenance feature of a reel mower is ensuring that blade is hard and will stay sharp cut after cut.
- Fiskars established in 1649 in a small Finnish village have always had good quality tools and they are especially good at making sharp blades.
- I have bought many Fiskars tools -some made a long time ago and they are better than many of the newer tools brought out by other companies today.
- At over $200 it make seem an expensive purchase but you will find that its ease of use and low maintenance will more than pay for itself.
- This model has its depth adjusting wheels at the front. The other models i have looked at have them at the rear. It is beneficial to have the adjustment at the front as all the pushing force is directed onto the reel driving wheels instead of the height adjusting wheels. This gives the mower more traction in wet or slippery conditions and is easier on the adjusting mechanism.
2. Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower
- Scotts is a good brand who have been making lawncare equipment for a long time.
- This is the 20 inch cut push mower which is a good width of cut.
- It has 9 heights of cut from 1 inch to 3 inches and the reel has 5 heat treated blades.
- It weighs only 35 pounds.
- Be aware that pushing a 20 inch mower through long grass is not the easiest task. But as with all reel mowers you should not let the grass get too long between cuts anyway so you should have no issues.
3. Fiskars 17 Inch Staysharp Push Reel Lawn Mower
- This is the second Fiskars model in my top 5 it has a 17inch cut and weighs 41 lbs.
- This mower is very easy to push and has a very user friendly height adjustment which adjusts in 1/2 inches from 1 inch to 4 inches.
- As with all push reel mowers be aware that it will not cut through small branches or thick stemmed weeds.
- This model like the first Fiskars one has hardened precision ground blades which are great for all types of lawn grass.
- Many people have remarked on how sharp the blades are- they cut like a hot knife through butter. This makes your job so much easier.
4. Great States 415-16 16-Inch Reel Mower
Standard Full Feature Lawn Mower With T-Style Handle And Heat Treated Blades
- The Great States seems to be a good value for money mower, it has a 16inch cutting width with a 5 blade, heat treated cutting reel.
- It has large diameter 10” wheels which makes going over uneven ground a breeze.
- The main frame is steel powder coated to keep rust at bay.
- This is a good basic mower and is easily stored due to its compact design.
- The only point I would make people aware of is that its adjustable rollers at the rear are plastic and don’t take harsh treatment well.
- It has a cutting height from ½ inch to 2 1/2 inches.
5. Greenworks 16-Inch Reel Lawn Mower with Grass Catcher 25052
- The Greenworks has a good 16 inch wide cut, it has its own grass catcher and has large 10inch wheels and a steel frame.
- The manufacturer does not say how many blades the reel has or if they are hardened or heat treated.
- Cutting height from 1 1/8 to 2 ½ inches over 4 different selectors is a bit limited
- A lot of people have commented that the grass bag falls off it a bit too easily.
- I feel this reel mower might be ok, but that it is less quality than the others.
Things to keep in mind when purchasing a push reel mower.
- A reel mower is great when the grass is not too long, but if the grass get overgrown it very quickly becomes a much harder task.
- The other side of this is, if the grass is not much longer that the last time you cut it. This will make your last cutting pass hard to see. The secret is to find a middle ground where you can easily see where you have cut but that the grass has not got overly long.
- Weeds are tougher than grass to cut, some weeds will need to be cut 2 -3 times to get them cut properly.
- Branches and twigs can stop the blade of the mower and you may need to lift them off the grass before you begin.
- The wider the cut the harder it will be to push the mower. Keep this in mind especially if you have an undulating lawn or if your lawn is on a slope.
- Grass boxes can be bought as an universal add on if you mower doesn’t come with one. A lot of people don’t like a push reel mower because they cant collect the grass. Now there are reel mowers with their own grass boxes or you can buy a universal box and fit it yourself. Again be aware of the added weight this will bring.
- Having a manual reel mower to cut your lawn with is a real pleasure. They are quiet, use no fuel or electric and leave your lawn grass with a really nice sharp cut.